An alternate ending to "Comrades In Arms"

by Jami

His arm hurt.

Before he even opening his eyes, Hawkeye Pierce could feel the awkward bend of his elbow and the weight under his arm, propping it up at an uncomfortable angle. He forced himself awake ... and stared, uncomprehendingly, at the blonde head lying across his chest, the head that was directly responsible for causing pins and needles in the aforementioned arm.

"Oh, yeah...." he muttered to himself as the pins and needles traveled to stomach.

Margaret Houlihan, who was not only the owner of said blonde head but also temporary possessor of his body if not heart, yawned and stretched. Her hand traveled over his face. Her eyes snapped open, locking onto his.

Hawk forced a half smile. Margaret jumped up.

"We have to get out of here."

Already, she was on the other side of the tiny hut, hurriedly tossing remnants of last night's meal into her knapsack.

"Margaret, hold on."

"Just don't lie there; let's get going!"

Hawkeye struggled to his feet. "Margaret, let's not rush into battle without a game plan."

She turned toward him, icily. "Are you mocking me?"

"Mocking ... no, no, I'm not mocking you...." He shuffled toward her. "At least give me a head start. My leg doesn't work; it stiffened up overnight."

"I had no intention of proceeding without you, Captain," she responded.

"Guess I should be grateful for small favors. I just haven't seen a woman in such a hurry to leave since Klinger claimed a cot in the Nurses Tent."

Margaret put her knapsack down.

"Last night was a nightmare," she said more to herself than to Hawkeye. "The sooner we're out of here, the sooner I'll stop hearing the shelling."

Hawk smiled. "It wasn't a total nightmare."

Margaret's back stiffened. "I'm amazed it took you this long to mention it."

"You're saying I was amazing?"

She snatched her knapsack and headed for the door. "I'm outta here."

Limping as fast as possible, Hawk caught up to her and grabbed her by the arm. Margaret pulled away as if he'd struck her.

"We're both sitting ducks out here," he pleaded. "Please don't leave me."

She dropped her knapsack slightly, but remained poised at the door, ready to flee.

"What happened between us—" she stiffened again but he continued – "What happened between us happened because we were tired and scared, and I promise you I'll never mention it again."

Margaret sighed, dropping her knapsack on the ground. "Not a word?"

"Not one word."

Grabbing a compass out of her knapsack, Margaret walked over to the small table in the corner of the hut. "Don't suppose we have a map..." Going through their supplies, Margaret found a box of crackers and tossed them at Hawkeye. "You need to keep your strength up."

He grabbed the crackers. "A continental breakfast. From the continent of Atlantis."

Margaret sat down and began to draw. "The 4077th is about 40 miles east of the 8063rd .... we went back about 10 miles before the jeep died ..."

Hawk chomped a cracker.

"Can you keep it down over there?"

"Sorry. I know I promised not one word; I didn't think that meant not one sound."

"You know exactly what that meant."

"What exactly are we not supposed to be talking about? Maybe you should refresh my memory."

She stood up and headed toward the door.

"Okay, alright, I'll –" Hawk cut himself off and planted himself firmly in her path. "One word, Margaret. Just one."

"You promised."

"I just want to know what was so bad about last night."

"We don't have time for this right now!"

"What's wrong with right now? It's not like the enemy's about to burst in."

A North Korean soldier, brandishing a machine gun, shuffled in.

"Alright," Hawk reflected, "not one word."

Pushing Margaret to the wall, Hawk covered her body with his, hands up in surrender. The soldier gave them a cursory glance, then picked up Hawk's discarded roll of crackers and began munching loudly.

"Oh, well, help yourself," Hawk muttered. "Too bad we don't have Charles' caviar for our guest. I think he might even be satisfied by some fancy cling peaches."

Suddenly, the soldier collapsed unconscious onto the ground. Hawk ran to him and turned him over. "Jeez, he's got a belly wound ... Margaret, give me a hand over here!"

"He is the enemy!"

"Funny, he bleeds just like our side."

Margaret turned and looked outside.

"Alright, that's it," Hawk said. "I was so terrible in the bedroom, you don't want to have anything to do with me in the operating room either?"

Margaret bolted out of the hut. Hawk grabbed some sulphur, shook it on the soldier's belly wound, and followed her outside.

Margaret was jumping up and down, arms waving. "Here we are! Here we are!" A chopper flew off in the distance to the sounds of sniper fire. Hawk grabbed her and pushed her to the ground.

"It's one of ours!" she protested.

"That could have been anyone!" he insisted. "That's sniper fire out there, not a marching band. You could have gotten yourself killed! Of course, it's starting to seem like you'd rather be dead than stuck here with me."

Margaret sighed and tried to push him off her. He started to get up, but suddenly, impulsively, changed his mind, pushing her back to the ground in a passionate kiss. They clung together for several seconds, then he felt her go slack beneath him. Humbled, he stood up.

"They're looking for us," she told him. "And I'd rather not be found like this."

The rain splashed off his hood, ran into his face, and stiffened his sore leg that much more. But Margaret Houlihan wouldn't budge. Hiding out under trees, waiting for the rain to stop or the enemy to finish them off, Hawk tried to snuggle next to her.

"Body heat," he argued. "Hypothermia."

But she was having none of it, scooting away from him as if any touch between them was physically painful.

"Well, who'd have thought we'd end up together like this," Hawk joked.

Margaret stared at him, eyes narrowed. "Together? Together! We're not together!"

"Margaret, shhh!"

"Don't you shush me!"

"I seem to keep making the same mistakes over and over again, so maybe you should give me a list! No shushing, no kissing, and absolutely no mention of what happened between us last night!"

"That's one rule I'm certainly not expecting you to keep."

"So let's talk about it!"

"I'm sure you will! With B.J. and Charles and Klinger .... I bet you can't wait to get home so you can spread the news all over camp. You must be pretty proud of yourself. How long have you been waiting to add me to the notches on your belt buckle?" She shook her head ruefully. "And to think I actually insisted on coming with you to save my nursing staff from your overheated, adolescent libido. Well, bravo, Captain, bravo!" Margaret began to clap, but Hawk grabbed her hand.

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